Philosopher Seeks Plausible Excuse for Planetary Waste & Destruction!

This essay originally appeared in Co-Options, published by our food co-op, Sevananda. I worked there for nine years and ran its recycling program. I also did layout for the paper for a while, including several of my own essays. Dawn and I have been co-op members for over 30 years and it’s still my favorite place to shop. A volunteer-run recycling center behind the building back then was the precursor to Atlanta’s curbside pickup program, which those same volunteers persuaded the city to start...

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Every Day Is Election Day! (if you vote with your dollars)

Though I have only one vote to cast on Election Day, opportunities to vote my conscience come along every day of the year: every dollar I spend is a vote for some commercial enterprise eager to supply my demand. Just because I hand that dollar over to strangers in exchange for goods or services doesn’t mean I am no longer responsible for it. It winds up in someone’s bank account, stock portfolio, campaign contribution or lobbyist’s paycheck. It’s my sweat and toil they’re spending, not theirs....

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Inequity v. Iniquity: A Choice of Evils

Sometimes our choices come down to a choice of evils. Any presidential election, for example. This year, however, thanks to an alliance of militant Christians and free-market fundamentalists, we face an unprecedented choice between an evil we know all too well and the carefully plotted termination of any hope of overcoming it. I wish I were exaggerating. But democracy, even one as flawed as ours, is all that stands in the way of an abrupt right turn into theocracy and absolute corporate rule....

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The Great God Fun and His Consort, Cool

Arriving in the U.S. in 1970, a missionary kid coming “home,” I missed the Sixties completely. But I had a front-row seat for the sequel, the Seventies. Plunged into sudden immersion in an alien culture, I witnessed firsthand the colonization, commodification, and commercialization of Cool. The cult of Cool, however, was only the latest incarnation of a culture-wide devotion to the Great God Fun – and we have now come to a crossroads where our addiction to distraction could prove our undoing....

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Destroy the Planet to Rule the World? The Mad Logic of the One Percent

The billionaires of the One Percent see climate change coming just as we do, bringing economic chaos, social mayhem, floods of refugees and ecological breakdown. But while we see it as a threat to our families and communities and the world we love, they see our alarm and activism as the real threat, and tighten their control – while escalating their investment in fossil fuels. Why? Perhaps the rise of the ruthless and unscrupulous to the top was not the result of civilization, but its cause....

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Who Could Have Imagined We Would End Up Where We Were Headed?

“You’re just imagining things,” we’re told as children. But where else do music and art, new inventions and brilliant solutions come from but our imaginations? Few can imagine an earthquake-sized shift in our way of life, though the pressures are building. An abrupt right turn into a totalitarian nightmare; a tremor beneath an aging nuclear plant; a glitch in our missile-launch systems; an irreversible climatic tipping point. But fewer still can imagine a shift toward empathy and compassion....

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“Evolution on Purpose”: The Way Forward

The sooner we can unplug mentally and spiritually from the extractive, exploitative world-view that built our toxic civilization – the mindset of the Machine – the sooner we can get busy creating a human-scale, community-focused, nature-based culture that can survive the collapse of the house of credit cards called the global economy. This doesn’t mean giving up our individuality; it means choosing a part to play in the vast and varied movement for evolutionary change that is uniquely ours....

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Unplugging Ourselves from the Machine – And What Comes Next

Good news! Homo sapiens will probably not be among the thousands of species doomed by the Sixth Great Extinction. It’s only civilization that will be lost. We have constructed an artificial ecological niche that is too specialized to be sustainable. But can we let our power-mad power structure and ecocidal economic order collapse while somehow hanging on to what matters most? It’s time to re-join the natural world and build communities of mutual support for long-term sustenance and survival....

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From Mutual Aid to Mutual Assured Destruction: How We Got Here

Every culture has its myth of an ancient Golden Age and a version of The Fall, when humans lost the favor of the gods and were exiled from some variation on the Garden of Eden. These tales may be encrypted memories of the transition from the prehistoric Stone Age to the age of Civilization, a.k.a. “history.” Some thinkers trace all our 21st-century troubles to that shift, when our ancestors embarked on the glorious era of empire and conquest – not only of their neighbors, but of nature itself....

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What Is Civilization Without a Little Civility?

“It’s the end of civilization as we know it!” The cartoon prophet means the “civilization” we learned about in school: technology, government, the economy, arts and culture, the media. But these are like the shell a seagoing crustacean builds to live in as it grows. “Civilization” is what lives inside the shell, the fragile creature protected by its calcium walls: our capacity to act in a civilized manner. Speak respectfully. Remember our manners. Treat one another humanely. In a word,...

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Stephen Wing

Poet, activist and author Stephen Wing lives in Atlanta with his wife Dawn Aura and assorted pets. Read more about him here.

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